Angelina Atyam: The Forgiveness of a Mother


In 1996, Charlotte Awino was taken by LRA rebels in Uganda. Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at her mother's response to this terrible event.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Robin Basselin.

Voice 2

And I'm Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

It was October 10, 1996. Fourteen year old Charlotte Awino was sleeping in her room at St. Mary's College in Aboke, Uganda.

Voice 2

It was very early in the morning. Suddenly, Charlotte woke up. She heard the sound of banging on her door. Next she heard the breaking of glass windows.

Voice 1

On that night, rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, broke into the school. They took Charlotte and 138 other girls from the school.

Voice 2

The rebels tied the girls' hands. They forced the girls to march through the rain and into the jungle. When a girl slowed, the rebels would hit her to keep her moving.

Voice 1

A teacher named Sister Rachele Fassera followed the group. When they stopped for the night, she spoke to the rebels. She fell on her knees. She continued asking again and again for the rebels to release the girls to her. But the rebels refused.

Voice 2

Finally, the rebel leader separated the girls into two groups. He told the sister that she could take 109 girls. But they would keep the other 30.

Voice 1

Sister Fassera said no. But the rebels said they would kill the thirty girls if the Sister did not agree. With great sadness, Sister Fassera left with only 109 of her 139 students.

Voice 2

Charlotte was one of the 30 girls left with the rebels. Charlotte's mother, Angelina Atyam, was deeply hurt by the loss of Charlotte. She did not know where Charlotte was - or if she was even alive. However, in her sadness, Angelina found great freedom and hope. Today's Spotlight program is on Angelina Atyam's story.

Voice 1

Angelina knew what it meant for Charlotte to be taken by the LRA. The LRA has been fighting the government of Uganda since the 1990s. They have caused terrible suffering for the people of northern Uganda. But their worst crimes were against children. The LRA has taken thousands of young children from their families. These children, some as young as seven or eight, were trained to be child soldiers. Older girls, like Charlotte, were forced to marry older soldiers.

Voice 2

After the kidnapping, the parents of the girls taken from St. Mary's began meeting together. They were all very angry and they worried about their girls. So, they gathered to pray for their daughters' return.

Voice 1

Angelina said that the group was "wrestling with God." The parents were Christians. They believed in God and they loved God, but they were angry - at the rebels and God. And they did not understand why this had happened.

Voice 2

Angelina told about a special day when the parents gathered to pray. One parent stood up and began to pray the Lord's Prayer. This Christian prayer begins,

Voice 3

"Our father in heaven
You are a holy God.
Make the world a good place.
Do what is best here on earth.
Make it like heaven.
Give us everything we need for today.
Forgive the bad things we do.
Help us to forgive people
who do bad things to us..."

Voice 1

After these words, "Help us to forgive people who do bad things to us..." the parent stopped praying. All the parents in the room were quiet. They recognized that they had not forgiven the rebels who had "done bad things to them."

Voice 2

After that day, Angelina knew that she needed to forgive the rebels. She knew freedom from her anger and sadness would only come through forgiveness. So, Angelina did an amazing thing! She met with the mother of Joseph Kony, the rebel leader. She said to his mother,

Voice 4

"I am here to tell you that I have forgiven your son, although he is still holding my daughter hostage. I have forgiven your clan because I need to be free inside. I have also forgiven your tribe and I want you to feel free with me."

Voice 1

Angelina said it was not easy - for her or the rebel leader's mother. However, after it was over, the two women held each other close and cried. They found peace together.

Voice 2

Angelina and the other parents continued to meet together. This group became known as the Concerned Parents' Association or CPA. And Angelina became the group's leader.

Voice 1

Soon, CPA grew to over 5000 family members of children stolen by the LRA. Angelina travelled to many places to tell her story. She even spoke to the United Nations about the problem of child soldiers in Uganda.

Voice 2

CPA also began helping child soldiers who had escaped from the LRA. When these children returned, they had a very difficult time living a ‘normal' life. They had seen and done terrible things as soldiers. So, CPA helped provide care for their mental health.

Voice 1

Often, when Angelina met an escaped child soldier, she would ask if they knew Charlotte. Over the years, she learned that Charlotte had been forced to marry an LRA soldier. She also learned that Charlotte had two children.

Voice 2

This news was both happy and sad at the same time. Angelina knew that Charlotte was alive, but she also knew that Charlotte suffered every day. So, Angelina continued to pray to God for Charlotte's release.

Voice 4

"I prayed and one day was again wrestling with God. And I sat on the floor and was telling God, ‘The Bible says you do not change, but seven years and seven months have gone by and I have not seen my daughter. In the Bible it says the seventh year is the year of freedom...Lord, are you changing in my situation?' I was wrestling with God."

Voice 1

That was the night of July the 19th, 2004.

Voice 2

The next morning, Angelina's daughter, Charlotte, escaped from the LRA.

Voice 1

Days later, Angelina and Charlotte were reunited. Angelina was so thankful to God for returning her daughter. Charlotte had lost many years of her life. She now had two children and no husband. However, Charlotte and Angelina knew that together they could find joy.

Voice 2

Angelina finally had Charlotte back, but that did not make her forget the thousands of other children still lost.

Voice 1

Angelina says that 26,000 children were taken by the LRA over many years. Of these, 6000 are still not found. And 5000 children are thought to have been born to girls while they were kidnapped. Angelina continues to speak out about these lost children of Uganda. In an appeal to the United Nations, Angelina said,

Voice 4

"And my hopes? Silence the guns. Stop the fighting. End the suffering...Let the children get back to their villages...And we also need your help. Will you help in any way? Will you? Alone we cannot stand this...We need to gather the effort of everyone to end human suffering. Please help us heal our children, with education, mental health programmes, and basic health care. If you act quickly, you can save lives."

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can visit our website at http://www.Radio.English.net. This program is called "Angelina Atyam: The Forgiveness of a Mother."

Comments


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layeak
said on April 01, 2009

Interesting above that Programmes.

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kenhieuloilam
said on May 05, 2011

When we follow the evil, we cause evil things. Once, I had a wound. I was very painful. My tears overflowed my corners of eyes. I thought if I did evil things, I would have to suffer the same pain or much bigger one. In the life, sufferings will go past. If I forgave a certain one, I would feel getting much smaller. I am really a servant, a mean one, a one of everyone. If I do evil things, I will have to suffer huge pain.

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nature187_vn
said on May 05, 2011

We should learn how to forgiveness for problems in the past.Life only real beautiful with a soul freedom and comfortable.
We will pray for childrens have been be murdered and kidnapped.Hope for a world peace,not evil.Thanks program’s story.

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Tomy
said on June 02, 2011

That was a powerful story. Take a lesson about forgiveness to people around you..